Your Words Matter, Lady I Knew From My Childhood Church

Written after a stunning and disturbing conversation with someone I’ve known for over 45 years.  The person I talked to that day wasn’t anybody I recognized, and it jarred me to my core. I’ve cried so much over this.  But sometimes, it’s time to wish someone well, and exit the toxicity.  I wonder how much of any of our past interactions have been masked to hide the intensity of the divisiveness.  It’s so sad.  I wrote the letter not with an intent to mail it (no point in sending something to an elderly woman with a healing husband in a nursing home (that has COVID-19) who sees nothing wrong with her views, and compares anyone with differing views as dirt on the bottom of her shoes that she wants to scrape off- there’s no reasoning with that).  Evidently I don’t have that same right to MY views as she has to hers.  I’m dirt on her shoes- not because I’m a Democrat (I’m not registered anything since mid-2016), but because I don’t tow the GOP line. She told me she doesn’t use the computer (which she’s said before), so this seemed the safest place to vent so I can sleep again.  And if she finds it, I hope it is something that gives her an idea of the weight of her words… not to be mean.

Dear W,

I hope you are well, and that H has been able to get the rehab services he needs- and has been safe.  I know this has all been so stressful. I can’t imagine the concern and sleepless nights.

Now, comes the painful part, but written in a tone of compassion and well wishes always. I’m not angry with you.  A bit stunned, and very hurt, but not angry. If I didn’t care, it wouldn’t be worth writing, even if just to blow off steam.

I will ALWAYS be SO very thankful for your friendship when I was younger.  You made a difference. I am truly grateful.  After one of our last conversations, along with one in early 2017, I am not sure I know you now. Maybe I never really did, as so much was formed on that when I was a kid.  When you said you considered Democrats to be the same as the dirt at the bottom of your shoes that you wanted to scrape off, and the 2017 reference to Mrs. Obama as the ’N’ word (I won’t use it- it’s vile and never justified in my view), I was stunned. I didn’t recognize you as someone I knew from the evangelical church I loved growing up. That was sad. It tore through my heart.  It made me question every conversation and interaction we’ve had.  How did I not know of such intense hate?

I may not like or respect Trump, but I don’t consider him to be “dirt on the bottom of my shoes”.  My specific prayer to God about Trump is “Lord, please help Trump be the president You want him to be.”.  Essentially, thy will be done.  I don’t consider him ‘dirt’, and hate takes too much energy; I have better things to do with my time. All I heard from you was what sounded like a hateful rant about something with no specifics other than a generalized view of  Democrats.  Nothing specific, just a tone of voice that was like a knife dripping with venom.  That’s not the person I grew up knowing.  And, I also thank you for that, because it’s made me more aware of my own views on a few things. And one thing is certain; I won’t initiate contact again. I won’t discuss this. It’s clear that it’s pointless.  You aren’t the only one whose blood pressure is a problem with stress. Mine can knock me unconscious. I won’t interact again with the comments I heard.  I don’t know where that came from, but it’s not from God.  I can see things I don’t respect without hate.  I don’t respect Trump, but I certainly don’t hate him.

I’m so thankful for the Bible, and the wisdom and guidance it so consistently provides.  I’m thankful that the Bible talks so much about love, and treating others with compassion and kindness. I love how it lets us know that God knows our hearts.  I love how it helps me when I feel like I’m completely alone.  I love how it is infinitely more important and stronger than humans in its influence in my life. I love how growing up at the old church shaped me;  those years were amazing, and have been the core of my being for as long as I can remember, as were my summers at camp on the staff.  

I’m not a teenager anymore, by a longshot. I have very specific reasons for my views, and base my decisions (as much as possible)  on compassion (and those who exemplify it), and mostly “as much as you’ve done to the least of my brethren, you’ve done it to Me.”.  I focus on “faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.”  I fail often in my goals of exemplifying the Fruit of the Spirit and the description of love in 1 Corinthians… but I am working on it daily. I have to focus on what God says. He’d never condone shunning people simply because of different views. HE gave us free will. Who are we to demand otherwise?  He uses all who are willing.  Face it, there were some sketchy folks He used for His purpose in the Bible. He sees our hearts.

I will always disagree about Trump’s “integrity” and I know you’ll never see any other view, so there’s no point in any discussion- and I wasn’t looking for one with a single comment that wasn’t an attack on your beliefs. And I won’t be a part of the hate towards any group of people. God created those people, too.  And what if they’re pushed away by Christians? How does that give glory to God?  I will always defend your right to your views. And I won’t be shut down with comments about your blood pressure; you’ve used that before.  If it’s that fragile, we shouldn’t speak. I don’t have any interest in  having to censor myself with someone who had been a close friend.  I guess I was expected to have your views.  When I made the very superficial, flip comment that led to that rant, I was caught off-guard with the intensity of your response- and yet it’s your view, so I have to accept that as how you truly feel. I respect your right to it. I don’t have to agree with or respect it. Or put myself in the position to be blind-sided again with the negativity of excluding anyone who thinks for themself.

I have met so many types of people as a nurse, and I am so thankful for that.  People are not simply labels or categories. They each have their own views that are not stereotypes- there are shades of gray, not just black and white. Many are surprising. Regardless, it’s not my right to judge them.  The plank in my eye is big enough to keep me busy; I don’t have time for the splinter in someone else’s. 

I’ve met Christians among the LGBTQ community. I’ve had good friends of many races. I’ve met “WASPs” who are some of the  most cold, superficial and negative people I’ve heard (often on TV).  I’ve known people who agonized over deciding to have an abortion, and felt such compassion for the magnitude of that decision. I’ve met people who I have nothing in common with who were kind and inclusive. I have family (biological & adoptive on both sides) who are mixed race, gay, and non-believers- and they have been incredible to know. I thank God for them, and the chance to be kind, and not the Christian they expect to find.  God meets people where they are… and I try to do the same, as best I can. He uses defective humans for His Divine plans… and I can only hope I am who He wants me to be, especially with my sponsor kids.  My purpose is to be used by Him… not to be a verbal punching bag for hate. 

I’ve met Christians who see love above all, and some who are basically in it for profit. I’ve met non-believers who have shown me great compassion.  I’ve known people (directly or ‘second hand’) who were pure evil.  And I’ve met one in particular who altered my life permanently when I was 23.  I’ve forgiven him. It doesn’t condone or excuse what he did, but it’s not my fight to punish him. Forgiveness is also an act of obedience. It’s the least I can do in gratitude to God for letting me survive that day. I focus on protecting others from Numbnuts every 3 years with parole protest letters- and I pray that the prison chaplain gets through to him.

I’ve met many people who were turned away from Christ by Christians.  My goal with my sponsor kids is that they see that they are loved (including the Muslim twins in Bangladesh). I am working hard to give them sound Christian support, and have gotten child and teen (boy’s and girl’s) study Bibles to use with little lessons in each letter I write to them. With that, I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit.  Kindness is free, even when the specifics aren’t clear. It costs us nothing but the desire to share it.  IF not, then the parable of the Good Samaritan was just a story, and not a lesson.

You said I only want to see “the bad”.  With the things I’ve been through, I’ve always tried to see the good, and apply Romans 8:28, because I do believe that God can make good out of anything, if we let Him.  I think that comment hurt the worst.  My greatest earthly happiness comes from people doing well, and doing kind things for others. I cry tears of joy when someone does well (I’m a mess during the Olympics, no matter who wins- their story and hard work led them to their dreams).  It’s amazing I don’t see only bad. The murders, rape, leukemia, disability and not being able to work as a nurse, and many other things would give me reason to do so.  But that’s not who I am. I wasn’t brought up to look for the bad.  But you think that of me? After 45+ years?  Then you don’t know me at all. I question everything about our ‘friendship’ with that comment. 

When one of my sponsor kids makes the drama team, my heart explodes with joy for him. When the twins start to feel comfortable asking me questions, I am so happy they feel safe to do so.  When another asks me to pray that his goats keep “reproducing well”, I’m overjoyed that he has a little ranch going (he’s 8).  When my sensitive one needs reassurance from me that I’m proud of her, my heart aches with gratitude that she is doing well.  I don’t see their ‘conditions’.  I see that God created these 8 kids with amazing potential. (Edit: sadly, I had to adjust my budget considerably, and have 5 of the kids that I still sponsor, but pray for all 8, and was assured the three I had to ‘give back’ would find sponsors- and that is my prayer). 

I don’t see conservatives or liberals. I see a country failing to see the big picture. We’re here together. Everybody has to make choices about what is worth destroying the country over. I don’t see anything worth that.  And prophetically, the US will fall. We’re on that path. And God will deal with things as He sees fit for His ultimate plans. In the meantime, I just want to be the best I can be with His help. His opinion is my beacon. HE has everything under control, even if humans have done their best to tear things apart.

I was hoping that hydroxychloroquine would be a ‘game-changer’, and it was no matter that the idea was pushed by Trump. What mattered was that it would be help to those suffering.  Like everyone, I’m so much more than my views on politics- and they vary by the issue-not the party.  Yet my non-GOP views have made me dirt on your shoes.  I can’t stick around for that. I have to let you go. I’m glad for the clarity. You said what you feel. Let the chips fall where they may.  I can respect your right to your views, even if my difference of opinion is in your crosshairs. But I won’t engage with venom. 

I will always wish you, H, and D all of the best in life. I will be glad to see you in THE place of no more crying or pain when we meet again.  It’s where so much of my hope lies. It’s where the people who gave me a life of church values are waiting.  It’s where the baby I lost is- in a place where its conception by rape won’t matter. It’s where a lot of people I’d expect to see will be, and very likely some I didn’t expect to see, and some I expected to see, but won’t… because I can’t see their hearts. But God can. He knows why I believe what I do, and why I think how I think, before I even think or believe anything. His omniscience and omnipotence blow me away, as does His undeserved Gift of grace, mercy, compassion, and great hope of everlasting life through  Jesus. Take care of yourself, and know that you will always be in my prayers for peace, health, and safety.  I absolutely did not intend for one flip comment to trigger such damage.  For that I deeply apologize. 

Until the time when the earth is long in the past, where a thousand years will seem to be but a minute, I say goodbye.  The pain of that conversation isn’t fixable. And I, again, wish you and your family everything good.

Can This Country Ever Come Together?

And I’m not necessarily talking about who wins the election in 2 days- though that ‘s a big part of it, but it’s way beyond that.  Everywhere I turn, there is such hate and divisiveness.  It’s so far beyond disagreement with any sort of mutual respect.  It’s bitter, hostile, and wishing the other ‘side’ ill will, or making personal attacks that go beyond disagreeing with views and beliefs.  And, it has no limits demographically. But recently, it does come through in the political hate each side seems to have for the other side.  Have people forgotten that there are decent human beings who happen to disagree?  Sure, there are politically based people in the public that I really don’t like (from both sides- extremism is very unpalatable no matter who does it).  There are many I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with. But I don’t wish anything dreadful on them.

In reading some of the comments on news stories, or even on YouTube for something totally unrelated to politics, the venomous comments are horrifying.  The topic can be a song, a video on some personal tragedy, or whatever. There is hate everywhere. Social media has made this so easy.  It’s the chickenshit way to spew contempt without having to actually come face to face with the person or ideas they abhor.  And there is no indication that there is any value for the person who may disagree.  It’s sad.  Pathetic. Terrifying.  There are comments about the person not deserving to live, that anybody associated with them isn’t worth taking up space on the planet, etc.  Over a disagreement in beliefs.  Says a lot about the desirability of being part of either side when personal attacks are acceptable.  I want nothing to do with either ‘side’.

We have people in this country who shoot a theater full of Batman movie goers ‘just because’ (and yes, I realize that mental illness was behind that to some degree- yet it was also well planned, so some measure of clear thinking was involved).  I’m grateful that the current candidates haven’t been harmed in a society that can produce Columbine, the Batman Massacre , killing of Amish school students, etc.  I pray for whoever wins the election.  Nobody deserves to be mowed down.  And in this society, I can see it happening very easily.  Some idiot will become a ‘martyr’… and some will be delighted, though without daring to say it at that point. Then it would be wrong- but to be so hateful otherwise?  It’s become a sport.

I cleared out many political ‘shares’ on my FaceBook page this morning.  These are from people I know.  I wish I didn’t know a thing about their political views (from either side) because most of it is followed with some type of disdain or hatred.  Republican, democrat, ‘other’, or independent.  It doesn’t matter. Politics has come to be equated with hate and division.  There are so few civilized discussions, and personally, I don’t want to know what my FRIENDS think about politics.  I’ve shared some things, and have tried to be selective, but I now feel that it’s just perpetuating what I loathe.  I was wrong to send anything political to anybody. I apologize.

No matter who wins the election, the media and social media will continue to provide an outlet for those who are bitter and hateful.  None of that solves anything. We all know that politicians just want to be right for the sake of being right- for votes- not to do anything productive. And those who campaign can’t really fulfill anything they promise since they’re not the final step in decision making- unless it’s to veto something, or their buddies are in control of the House of Representatives and Senate.  Congress seems to be a cesspool of hatred.  A microcosm of the country at large.

I’ve had a relative (a.k.a. family member) describe me in bitterly hateful terms because I asked to not receive anymore e-mail propaganda from her (and I never sent her anything from ‘my side’). She hadn’t returned e-mails (about ‘hey, how are you?’) or had anything to do with me for over 20 years.  Yet she decided she knows that I’m a hate monger?  No.  That relationship is over.  It’s one thing to disagree. It’s something else (and a deal breaker) to make it a personal attack.  And yet, that’s all I see from so many people- including Christians, who ‘talk’ about not being judgemental, but can’t seem to shut up with their judgements about those they disagree with.  Those who don’t care about God, but claim to want everyone to get along, are just as guilty.  If people can’t be civilized I really don’t care to know them.  Disagreeing is one thing, when it’s done with respect that both sides feel passionately about their beliefs.  But when any side demands respect and refuses to give it, they’re all hypocrites.

There are a good number of ‘friends’ who I wouldn’t have anything to do with if I knew them for purely political reasons.  There are some family members that I’m stuck with until they cross the line and get personal with their attacks.  And yet mostly what I see are hateful posts that cause me to wonder if the sender thinks the horrible things about me because I don’t agree with their views about someone they don’t know as a human being.  Public figures are not humanized. They have become objects.  And social media has made categorizing and objectifying people the way to interact.

Eight years of Bush-hate has become four years of Obama-hate (or Obama worship- depending on the ‘side’).  No matter who wins this election on Tuesday, there will be more hate.  And it does cross over into relationships.  Even if I agree with most of what my friends believe, I don’t want to see their hatred.  Maybe some folks need to unfriend me.  If hatred over someone they don’t know is that important, that’s probably a good thing to just get rid of me.  I’ll understand.  I don’t agree completely with EITHER candidate or ‘side’.  I don’t identify with any party.  Sadly, it’s become picking the less of two evils.  I’m embarrassed by many of the conservative pundits.  And I dislike many of the far-left personalities.  Extremism isn’t appealing no matter where it comes from.

So, I wait for Tuesday to be over with. Just get it done.  The tone for the next four years will be set in a heartbeat.  Obama wins, and the right hates; Romney wins, and the left hates.  There is no middle ground anymore (at least what is made public- maybe there are some who stay quiet that can be more discreet and humane).  Regardless, our country is ruined. Until there can be some sort of cooperation and removing the person’s ideas from their value as a human being, we’re going to continue to fail.  If we can’t pay for our debt, we’re going to be like Greece (who had a major corporation refuse to send a cancer drug to them this week; google ‘Merck and Greece’).  If we don’t take care of our own, we’ll have people needlessly dying and/or homeless- generally through no fault of their own.  And these seem to be the only two options….no middle ground that can be agreed upon.  So we’ll fail. We’re already dropping in health and education categories with other countries.

While I still think that this is the best place to live, it is a horrible place to exist among so much hate.  So, the 25+ countries that read this blog- this is my view. I still love my country…but less and less the people who make their opinions known in hateful ways.  For now, it’s worse from those on the right…. but if Romney wins (as it was in the years with Bush), the left will spew their venom.  And in the end, it does nothing to fix anything.